How to be a highly effective parent

“What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, 8:17 a.m.
Boulder, CO

Good morning,

Today’s post is about the importance of having your ducks in a row.

Would you like to ask your teen to do his homework, take out the trash or pick up his room without it turning into a fight every time?

Do you want to stop worrying about whether or not your teen is going to be home on time?

Are you tired of having to explain and defend everything you say?

If what you say, how you say it and what you believe are not aligned, then the unspoken message in your voice, in your body language, in your facial expressions and in your lack of enthusiasm will drown out whatever words fall off your tongue. You wont persuade anyone, let alone your teenager, to do as you wish. You fail to be effective as a parent.


It’s like a Ford salesman showing up in a Buick. No one is going to take him seriously. And your teen(s) wont take you seriously unless what you say aligns with what you do and who you are.

Many parents want their teen to behave better, to be more responsible, but seriously doubt if it’s possible. That doubt is transmitted to the teen just as clearly as if it were said aloud. It’s virtually impossible to say one thing and believe another without the other person sensing it in some way.

We almost always telegraph our true feelings whether we want to or not. We telegraph with our tone of voice, through involuntary facial expressions and by how we carry ourselves. And even if we do manage to control these things, our lack of confidence in what we are saying will almost certainly be sensed by the other person

Your teen may not know exactly what you are thinking, but he will know that something isn’t quite right. It is this “sixth sense” that will derail your efforts to persuade and influence every time.

Stephen Covey, best selling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote…

“what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.”

Another way to say this, and this comes from Becky A. Baily, Ph.D. the author of Easy to Love, Hard to Discipline, is…

“You cannot teach skills you do not possess.”

For example, you cannot teach your teen to talk with control, if all you do is yell. When you yell, then the lesson you teach is this: if you don’t feel like you are being heard, it’s OK to yell.

Here’s the rub.

In the heat of the moment, when your child is yelling and swearing at you it’s tough to maintain your cool. It can sometimes feel impossible to stay in control. Before you know it you’re raging mad. (My son is not even two years old and it is amazing how quickly I reach my boiling point sometimes.) The question is, “How do you keep your cool when that stimulus, your out-of-control teen, is right in your face?”

How did you keep yourself from going off the deep end? How do you choose your response?

Key Point: You decide ahead of time how you want to respond.

A good way to do this, according to Stephen Covey is to “develop a personal mission statement or philosophy or creed.” This is a keystone of his second habit, “Begin With The End In Mind.” Here is a sampling from an example in his book:

Succeed at home first.
Be sincere yet decisive.
Maintain a positive attitude.
Keep a sense of humor.
Listen twice as much as you speak.

A personal mission statement is like a compass; it gives you a direction when everything and everyone around you is spinning out-of-control. It helps you choose how to respond when life throws the proverbial monkey wrench into the mix. It helps you make choices based on values and principles rather than emotion.

“We are free to choose our response in any situation,” says Covey. When that choice is based on fundamental values and principles you can’t help but be aligned. What you say and how you say it will automatically be aligned with who you are and what you believe.

There will be no question and no confusion about where you stand. When you speak, you will speak with confidence and conviction, and your teen will listen.

So before you do anything else today, commit to writing a personal mission statement. Commit to writing a personal philosophy on parenting by the end of the week.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Focus on what I want.*
Look for positive intent.*
Notice, don’t judge.*
Teach by example.*
Think Win/Win.**
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.**

I’d love to hear what you come up with.

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

*: Becky A. Bailey, Ph.D. – Easy to Love, Hard to Discipline
: Stephen R. Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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